The AGCM condemns Dentix stating that dentistry is a commercial practice and the patient must be protected as a customer

The AGCM condemns Dentix stating that dentistry is a commercial practice and the patient must be protected as a customer
The AGCM condemns Dentix stating that dentistry is a commercial practice and the patient must be protected as a customer
September 26, 2021

He did the right thing Federconsumatori to underline how on the day of the news of the Antitrust conviction of Dentix to pay one million euros for unfair commercial practices, in the Senate the amendment who would have liked to avoid similar situations was quashed. An amendment that for Federconsumatori “would have introduced greater safeguards for citizens in the area of ​​dental care”.

I have written it many times: the failure of Dentix that of the Spanish IDental, the problems born with Ideasorriso and other small or medium chains that over the years have left their patients with treatments to finish, confirm that the practice of dentistry in company form needs more specific rules.
Then of course we can and must discuss on what these should be.

On the other hand, I disagree consider the two decisions – Antitrust and rejection of the amendment – as in antithesis.
I find that, instead, they are based on the same consideration of matter, or that the practice of dentistry is considered a commercial practice.

The Market Competition Authority in sanctioning Dentix it does not enter into the merits of bankruptcy and how to avoid it, it does not protect patients who had turned to the Group’s studies as “sick” but as consumers.
And to do it uses the rules of the Consumer Code, of advertising, that is, how much Dental Unions and the Order have always fought by explaining that these rules must not and cannot be associated with dental activity because in the offices people are treated, they do not sell teeth.
“Dentistry must not be commodified”, it has always been said.
But in this case Dentix was only sanctioned for failing to comply with market rules.

And the same principles that regulate the market considered by the AGCM to sanction Dentix seem to have also been considered by the Government in giving a negative opinion to the Lorefice amendment: the exclusion of joint-stock companies from the possibility of practicing dental activity would introduce a limitation not justified by competition and the principle of freedom of establishment referred to in Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, he said Undersecretary Amendola to the Commission.

Of care and patients we don’t talk about it neither in the Commission nor in the Antitrust decision, if not marginally.

The AGCM does not sanction Dentix because it has created inconvenience to the health of patients left with the treatments to be completed that they often continued to pay, sanctions DEntesx – the Authority’s decision reads – because through advertising flyers and on its website “it has proposed itself to consumers as a serious and reliable operator, capable of providing dental and dental services based on cutting-edge technologies, low-level staff and multidisciplinary team “.
But since, writes the AGCM, numerous consumers who went to the Dentix centers, “starting a course of treatment mostly covered by loans contracted with financial intermediaries”, they saw their expectations “disregarded and they had to face inconveniences related to lack of organizational care and inefficiencies “, the Dentix Group is sanctioned for unfair commercial practices.
Basically, what was promised was not kept, causing the contract between the client / patient and Dentix to be canceled.

Leaving aside the “principle” question (certainly not to be underestimated) of considering a cure as a commercial practice, looking only at the “practical” aspect the AGCM sanction outlines a way to protect customers / patients also in terms of advertising. If I promise to chew in 24 hours and I don’t do it I can be sanctioned, if I promise you fixed teeth and then I can’t fit the implants I can be sanctioned and so on listing advertising promises.

In the AGCM ruling there is also the question of the protection of the patient consumer from financial, from consumer credit.

Per Graziano Urbinati, president of Federconsumatori Rimini “Unfortunately, the responsibilities of the financial companies that operated with Dentix remain in shadow in the sentence: Fiditalia, Cofidis and Deutsche Bank. Because the financing was an integral part of the conditions for activating Dentix services, and only a small number of patients paid in other ways”.
It is completely missing in the decision of the Guarantor – Urbinati continues -, the responsibility of the financial companies for ascertaining the financial and organizational status of Dentix, the non-presentation of financial statements, management opacities, as promptly reported by Federconsumatori”.

Guarantor has instead considered the correct behavior of the financial companies believing that they assisted the clients and reimbursed the treatments not used as per contract.
But AGCM goes further and indicates the commitment made by one of them (Cofidis, the only one threatened with a sanction if it does not keep its promises) the model to follow, guaranteeing clients / patients to avoidin a period of economic crisis which could frequently lead to cases similar to that of Dentix”.

The commitment proposed by Cofidis is to create an “emergency protocol” for cases of non-fulfillment of the studies (their closure) which lead the finance company to divert clients / patients to other partner dental practices of the financial to end the treatment started and financed.

For AGCM, he writes, what was proposed and adopted by the financial company could “constitute a best practice in the consumer credit sector and in the relationship between operators and consumers, increasing customer awareness of the work of financial companies”.
In fact, AGCM is pleased that the financial apply the same guarantees to dental care that it applies when financing other products (television, car, travel), or of give guarantees to the customer that in any case he will come into possession of the goods purchased in installments. The last consideration is on the one million euro fine imposed on Dentix, bankrupt company.

In reality, the decision reads, the penalty should have been 1,200,000 euros but since the company has economic problems, a “Discount”.
But precisely because the company is in bankruptcy, is it appropriate to sanction Dentix with a million euros which, if ever paid, will remove funds from creditors, including patients?

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